Tension headache (HDN)
Is the most common disease manifested by headache. It refers to primary headaches, that is, those in which there is no additional disease causing the pain.
A tension headache is manifested by bouts of pain, more often bilateral, compressive or squeezing character, of moderate intensity (although it may be strong). The pain can spread to the back of the head, or vice versa, start there and go up. Pain weakens the ability to work and work productivity, but does not deprive the patient of the ability to perform his function. With physical exertion, the pain usually does not worsen. An attack can be caused by emotional stress (experiences, stress, especially if there is a tendency to anxiety) and physical stress, especially long-term work in an uncomfortable position, working at a computer.
More often, tension headache develops in people prone to stress and anxiety, against a background of depression, with a low amount of physical activity in everyday life.
Additional studies for tension headaches are most often not required, but can be prescribed by a doctor in case of doubt about the diagnosis, if other types of headache are suspected.
You can reduce the likelihood of tension headaches by mastering relaxation exercises (progressive relaxation, breathing exercises, yoga), diversifying and increasing physical activity (doing fitness, swimming, some kind of amateur sports).
Relaxation techniques can also help directly during an attack of pain. The pain can also ease or disappear after rest, sleep, warm bath. If necessary, for pain, you can take analgesics – aspirin, ibuprofen, paracetamol. They relieve the symptoms of tension headaches, relieve the condition, but do not affect the causes of the disease. If used too often, they can cause an abusal headache . Therefore, analgesics should not be taken more than 2-3 times a week. If more frequent admission is required, this indicates the need for preventive treatment – a treatment that, by acting on the causes and mechanisms of pain development, reduces the frequency and intensity of attacks.
Preventive treatment is prescribed only by a doctor. The prescribed drug should be taken daily, regardless of the presence or absence of pain.
Some of these drugs have side effects that the doctor should discuss in detail when prescribing; most often they are not very pronounced, but sometimes they may require a change in the dose or discontinuation of the drug. In any case of a side effect or any questions about the drug, it makes sense to ask the doctor who prescribed the drug.
The doctor may prescribe a gradual increase in the dose of the drug, or increase the dose of the drug at each subsequent visit. In this case, side effects may not appear immediately. Sometimes the doctor selects the so-called maximum tolerated dose of the drug, that is, the dose at which there are no side effects yet or they are small.
For correct diagnosis and monitoring of treatment, it is necessary to keep a headache diary.
An episodic tension headache most often resolves after its cause (stress, uncomfortable position at work) has been eliminated.
The effectiveness of preventive treatment for tension headaches depends both on the accuracy of the doctor’s prescriptions and on the individual characteristics of the organism and the disease. There is no guarantee that the first preventive method will relieve pain. Sometimes you have to switch to another drug. On average, in order to understand whether there is an effect of the drug, it must be taken in a therapeutic dose for at least 2 months.